A man who has been living near Hayden for more than a year is the prime suspect in the stabbing of his 12-year-old daughter in Idaho.
John Rollins Tuggle, a 37-year-old registered sex offender who most recently worked as a painter in Steamboat Springs, is suspected of stabbing his daughter and leaving her in the brush near Wallace, Idaho, about 35 miles north of Coeur d'Alene, said Shoshone County Sheriff Chuck Reynalds. A family searching for a campsite Wednesday heard her cries and found her bound and with stab wounds "all over" her body, Reynalds said.
Preliminary evidence indicated that the girl had been sexually assaulted, he said.
The girl remained hospitalized Thursday at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Wash., after undergoing surgery. She was awake and spoke to authorities, Reynalds said. She is expected to live.
Tuggle was supposed to be taking his daughter to the mall when they disappeared, Reynalds said. He is the only suspect in the case, Idaho authorities said. A warrant has been issued for Tuggle's arrest on suspicion of attempted murder. The charges may be amended as authorities continue to gather evidence, Reynalds said.
A manhunt for Tuggle was ongoing Thursday in Idaho and Northwest Colorado.
Tuggle was released from an Idaho prison in January 2004 after serving nine years for statutory rape. He came to live with his brother shortly after his release, registering as a sex offender in Routt County in February 2004 and again in January of this year, according to the Routt County Sheriff's Office.
Tuggle worked as a painter in Steamboat and fully complied with Colorado law regarding sex offenders, Routt County Sheriff John Warner said. Warner and Hayden police Chief Jody Lenahan said they had no previous problems with Tuggle.
Tuggle's brother, Chris, said that Tuggle left July 14 to visit his children in Idaho and was supposed to return Tuesday. "I knew something was wrong, like he was going to leave and not come back," Chris Tuggle said. "But I had no idea it might be something like this."
Chris Tuggle said his brother is "pretty resourceful" and could survive in the wilderness for an extended period. "He always talked about going and living in the mountains," Chris Tuggle said. "I told (police) I know where he is. ... He's up in those mountains somewhere."
Deputies have interviewed the girl and were searching areas where Tuggle has relatives, Reynalds said. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is assisting in the search. "We have the whole world looking for him," Reynalds said.
Tuggle is described as 6-foot and 200 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes and numerous tattoos. Tuggle was thought to be driving a red 1989 Ford Escort with Colorado license plates and "is known to carry large knives on his person and in his vehicle," the Sheriff's Office wrote on a wanted poster.
Chris Tuggle said his brother likely ditched his car. "I find it hard to believe he is still with that car," he said.
In Routt County, a vehicle similar to the description of Tuggle's car was sighted at about 10:30 a.m. Thursday on Routt County Road 27 headed to Colorado Highway 13, Warner said. Law enforcement officers were not able to locate the vehicle.
Warner said officers from Eagle County and the Steam--boat Springs Police Dep--artment, and two FBI agents from Glenwood Springs are assisting in the search in Northwest Colorado. Warner said there are officers stationed at the west, east, north and south entrances and exits of the county and that the Tuggles' home near Hayden is being monitored.
Authorities have no motive for the attack. "Anger, alcohol, we have no idea," Reynalds said.
Routt County Sheriff's Office record keeper Elise Bennett said John Tuggle is among about 20 sex offenders registered in Routt County. The public can review the list of sex offenders, their photos and where they live at the Sheriff's Office.
Sex offenders can leave the area where they are registered for as long as 14 days without informing the agency they are registered with.